Dear Abby: Woman takes a hands-off approach to blind dates

Dear Abby: I’m a single 38-year-old woman. I haven’t been in a relationship in more than 10 years because of school, work and kids. Lately, since I graduated, I have been on a string of blind dates. Men seem to want to hold my hand, touch my hair, stroke my arm, etc. right away. When I say I don’t like it, they say they are “just being affectionate” because they like me.

I’m a cerebral person. I have fallen in love with men who are not conventionally attractive because they appealed to me intellectually. I have rejected handsome men because we weren’t intellectually compatible. Until I feel some sort of rapport, I might as well be asexual. I am not turned on, and I do not want to be touched.

My dates, my friends and my family say this means I’m not ready for a relationship. What do you think? Is it unreasonable to want to feel a connection with someone before exchanging touches? What’s the likelihood of success in courting when everyone keeps their hands to themselves in the beginning? – No Touchy, Please

Dear No Touchy: I’m not sure I agree with your friends and family. A date may get the impression that you’re not ready because the way you are delivering your message may come across as rejection. Try telling them exactly what you told me, that unless you feel an intellectual connection, being touched makes you uncomfortable. Most men appreciate a woman who expresses herself clearly about what she likes as well as what she doesn’t.

Dear Abby: Several times now, my mother-in-law has given me cleaning supplies as gifts. I’m trying to decide how to interpret the gesture.

Is she hinting that she thinks our house is poorly kept? Is it that she enjoys buying new cleaning supplies and would also like to receive them as gifts? Or could it be a passive-aggressive dig at my decision to work full-time when she thinks I should be staying home keeping house? My husband and I share domestic responsibilities roughly evenly, and he’s never received such gifts. – Mother-In-Law Gifts

Dear Gifts: Not knowing your mother-in-law, I can’t guess at her motive for choosing the gifts she’s giving you. If you want a straight answer to your question, you will have to find the courage to get it straight from the horse’s mouth.